” “Hallel” means “praise” in Hebrew. You might know it from the first part of the word “hallelujah” which means “praise the Lord”. It’s also the name of a prayer that we say on festivals (like Passover), consisting mostly of psalms. But on the last day of Passover, which begins tonight, we don’t say a full Hallel; we shorten the prayer. Why? Because this is the day when Pharaoh’s army drowned in the Red Sea, and, though we want to rejoice in our victory, we don’t want to rejoice in the death of our enemies.

I think this is an important principle: we have a right to defend ourselves, but we shouldn’t demonize our enemies – the opposite: we should remember that our enemies are human too. More than that: we don’t *need* to demonize our enemies in order to defend ourselves; the right to self-defense is absolute.” (David Boxenhorn).

” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1, 27:28)

For some it’s not easy to understand how come the Jews have managed to survive. as a nation, for so long.

Reading the explanation about why the ‘hallel’ said in the last day of the Passover is shorter than usual did the trick for me.

I’m not a religious person, not in the general accepted meaning of the word anyway, but this doesn’t prevent me from finding wisdom in religious texts.
Reading the quote from the Genesis where God tells to his ‘made in his own image’ children “…fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the…” things start to become apparent:

– The most important is ‘survival’. Nothing can be accomplished after death, not ‘on this side of the grave’ anyway.
– ‘Survival’ is not something that can be done individually. It’s ‘…fill the earth and subdue it.”, not ‘conquer the earth and vanquish the others’.
– Take care of what’s going on around you. ‘Rule over the…’ means bearing the responsibility of whatever happens under your stewardship.

My explanation about how come the Jews, and other ‘very experienced’ people, have managed to survive for so long is that they were able to maintain the fragile equilibrium between the need to preserve their identity and the wisdom to respect the identity of ‘others’. After all it’s a lot easier to survive together with as many as possible than against everybody else.